The Best And Worst Fits For LaMarcus Aldridge’s Services
There are many free agents out there that have some decisions to make. Some, like Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, are only taking meetings with the team he has played for in the NBA and no one else. While others have decided to open up the field and take meetings from everyone. There are some enticing names out there, but one that rings a bell for many is Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Last offseason, the Portland Trailblazers tried to lock up the talented forward to an extension. And although it was believed by many that he would stay there and sign a more lucrative extension with Portland this offseason, there was some speculation as to him potentially leaving Portland this summer. This belief came to fruition a little bit more when Aldridge opened up his recruitment this summer as of the last few weeks. There are as many as seven teams that are reportedly interested in him and want to add him to their rosters. Aldridge, although he has not really won a lot in the playoffs, is a big man that many consider dominant and that can change a team’s fortunes just with a signature. And expectedly, he is the most coveted free agent out there (subtracting LeBron James from this one because we know he isn’t leaving Cleveland again). But where would be the best fit for him?
The list of teams interested in Aldridge are the New York Knicks, the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns. Looking that list of teams, there are a couple that stand out in regards to his talents. If you have taken a look at Aldridge’s game, it is very versatile in terms of his range. The 6’11” power forward can post very well when he wants to. He can face you up and take the jump shot as well as drive the middle of the lane or the baseline to attack the rim. But what makes Aldridge even more special is his ability to stretch the defense for a man his size. He can shoot all the way out to the three-point line and he can also be a good pick-and-pop big with as well as he shoots the jumper. At times he can get too comfortable shooting the jump shot, but he is effective with it nonetheless. The team that would obviously benefit from having him the most is the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan is not getting any younger and with Kawhi Leonard getting ready to accept a big extension from the Spurs, San Antonio needs another piece to go along with him. By adding Aldridge, that helps stabilize the team down low once Duncan decides to hang it up. In essence, you would be replacing Duncan with a player that is very similar to him but more athletic. Add him to what they have coming back next year reportedly (Duncan and Manu Ginobli are reportedly coming back on cheaper salaries to help the team) and this team could be hoisting the trophy again in 2016 with Aldridge. And the good thing about the Spurs is that they can pay Aldridge as much as they want due to the sacrifices of Duncan and Ginobli. At this point in their careers, they know they are playing more for rings than salaries. And for Duncan, that can help them potentially get one more before riding off into the sunset. For Aldridge, it would help him add a crowning achievement to his career and also help the Spurs bridge the gap successfully into the next era of San Antonio basketball. Imagine the motion offense they run with Aldridge and Kawhi being the main options. But for the here and now, Aldridge and Duncan would remind many of the original Twin Towers that San Antonio had when they won it the first time with a young Tim Duncan and a veteran David Robinson. Amazing how things can change over time as Duncan would be the veteran in this scenario.
The Spurs would be an excellent fit for Aldridge and he could very well land there. But like there is a best fit for Aldridge, there is one fit that would be the worst for him. The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are clamoring for the services of Aldridge. Both are looking at him as the missing piece to what they want to accomplish. But in reality, both teams are a tie for the worst fit for his services. In Dallas, the team there is a jump-shooting team for the most part. And even though Aldridge can shoot the jump shot, he would basically be asked to be the post presence for that team. That is fine and dandy on the offensive end of the court, but on the defensive end that would be trouble. Imagine Aldridge having to be the rim protector for the Mavericks. Even though Chandler is older, he is still far and away a better rim protector than Aldridge will ever be. The only way the addition of Aldridge could work is if the Mavericks can send Dirk to the bench and allow Aldridge to start with a guy like Chandler as the center alongside him. But the reality of that happening is slim to none and even if it did, the Mavericks still would not have enough in the West to win a title. As far as Houston, they seemed to be run by James Harden. And that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Harden is a playmaker on the offensive end of the court and a lot of the offense runs through his hands. But Harden has said that he would like for Houston to bring another playmaker in besides him next season. Looking at the Houston Rockets as they are (when healthy), there are devoid of another playmaker and need one sorely to take the load off Harden a little bit more. In the draft, they had the opportunity to add a playmaker and chose to add Sam Dekker instead. So with the addition of Aldridge, that would not address the need they had. Dwight Howard occupies the post and that would take away from the touches Aldridge would have in there. And as far as him pairing with Harden, he would become exclusively a pick-and-pop guy, and that would not be what the Rockets needed. Ironically, Josh Smith actually fits this team better than Aldridge because he has the ability to be a playmaker, although he is inconsistent at times. Aldridge going there would not make this team any more dangerous unless they got rid of Dwight Howard or he found a jumpshot, two things that are not likely to happen anytime soon.
Of course there are four other teams that fit in this scenario and the Lakers are reportedly the leading candidate for his services. The fit there would be nice, but with the fluidity of the situation there in regards to the potential trade for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, there is no telling what kind of team will be there. If they get Cousins, the team would be tough provided Kobe can stay healthy this season. If they don’t trade for Cousins, then he could potentially have to play center and that would not be a good thing defensively at all. In the end, Aldridge will get paid one way or the other. The decision is his ultimately, but if he is seriously thinking about getting a ring along with getting paid, San Antonio is the spot where he needs to go. They have the best coach, system and scenario for him to succeed immediately.